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Genesis 29:31-35

The Family of Jacob

29:31 When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, 1  he enabled her to become pregnant 2  while Rachel remained childless. 29:32 So Leah became pregnant 3  and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, 4  for she said, “The Lord has looked with pity on my oppressed condition. 5  Surely my husband will love me now.”

29:33 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “Because the Lord heard that I was unloved, 6  he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon. 7 

29:34 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “Now this time my husband will show me affection, 8  because I have given birth to three sons for him.” That is why he was named Levi. 9 

29:35 She became pregnant again and had another son. She said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” That is why she named him Judah. 10  Then she stopped having children.

1 tn Heb “hated.” The rhetorical device of overstatement is used (note v. 30, which says simply that Jacob loved Rachel more than he did Leah) to emphasize that Rachel, as Jacob’s true love and the primary object of his affections, had an advantage over Leah.

2 tn Heb “he opened up her womb.”

3 tn Or “Leah conceived” (also in vv. 33, 34, 35).

4 sn The name Reuben (רְאוּבֵן, rÿuven) means “look, a son.”

5 tn Heb “looked on my affliction.”

sn Leah’s explanation of the name Reuben reflects a popular etymology, not an exact one. The name means literally “look, a son.” Playing on the Hebrew verb “look,” she observes that the Lord has “looked” with pity on her oppressed condition. See further S. R. Driver, Genesis, 273.

6 tn Heb “hated.” See the note on the word “unloved” in v. 31.

7 sn The name Simeon (שִׁמְעוֹן, shimon) is derived from the verbal root שָׁמַע (shama’) and means “hearing.” The name is appropriate since it is reminder that the Lord “heard” about Leah’s unloved condition and responded with pity.

8 tn Heb “will be joined to me.”

9 sn The name Levi (לֵוִי, levi), the precise meaning of which is debated, was appropriate because it sounds like the verb לָוָה (lavah, “to join”), used in the statement recorded earlier in the verse.

10 sn The name Judah (יְהוּדָה, yÿhudah) means “he will be praised” and reflects the sentiment Leah expresses in the statement recorded earlier in the verse. For further discussion see W. F. Albright, “The Names ‘Israel’ and ‘Judah’ with an Excursus on the Etymology of Todah and Torah,” JBL 46 (1927): 151-85; and A. R. Millard, “The Meaning of the Name Judah,” ZAW 86 (1974): 216-18.

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